What You Need to Know as Labiaplasty Becomes More Popular
Labiaplasty, plastic surgery to alter the size or shape of the labia, is gaining popularity among women of all ages. Labiaplasty is a fairly new thing on the plastic surgery radar. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) didn’t start tracking labiaplasty statistics until 2015. By 2016, the number of labiaplasties done in the U.S. had already grown by 39 percent.
Some women have never even heard of labiaplasty, but that’s changing rapidly.
Why have labiaplasty? While there is certainly no normal or ideal labial size or shape, many women are unhappy with their vaginal anatomy for a number of reasons. From relieving discomfort to looking more beautiful, there are a lot of benefits that labiaplasty can provide. Use this guide to help you understand more about labiaplasty and other cosmetic gynecology, from deciding if it’s right for you to what the recovery is like.
Why Labiaplasty Is Getting So Popular
Labiaplasty can help you feel more confident and comfortable in and out of clothing.
It’s nothing new for women to want to look and feel their best. Plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation and face lifts have been popular for many years. Advancements in knowledge and innovations in technique have made it possible for women to rejuvenate and beautify even their most intimate areas.
Changing social norms have created an environment where women are more comfortable talking about dissatisfaction with some aspect of their vaginal anatomy. While it might have been a taboo topic for ladies of bygone times, women today tend to be more knowledgeable about their bodies. This open and empowered mindset has brought with it refreshing new attitudes about women’s femininity and sexuality.
Labiaplasty’s popularity may also have something to do with the shift toward pubic grooming. Women are seeing a much clearer picture of their own genital anatomy, and some may not be happy with how things are laid out. With that may come some concern about whether their intimate partners might also enjoy an improved view.
Being a Good Candidate for Labiaplasty
Not everyone is a good candidate to have surgery. Even if you are physically healthy enough to have a surgical procedure, labiaplasty may not be right for you. Here are some ways to tell whether having labiaplasty might be a good fit.
- You feel self-conscious in intimate situations. If you don’t feel sexy, you’ll be less likely to enjoy sexual intimacy. When you feel confident with the way your most intimate area looks, you’ll probably be less inhibited and enjoy sex more.
- You don’t wear certain types of clothing. You may feel restricted from wearing tight clothing such as fitness wear because of the size or shape of your labia. If so, surgical reduction can help give you a more streamlined look and eliminate any chafing or discomfort.
- You restrict your activities. Large labia can cause pain or discomfort during certain activities like bike riding and even sexual intercourse. Some minor adjustments can make a world of difference, giving you the freedom to do what you enjoy without pain or irritation.
If the size or shape of your labia interferes with your life in any way, it might be time to think about labiaplasty.
- You are in good health. Before you have surgery, you need to have a good bill of health. If you’re seeing a doctor for any kind of medical condition, make sure you have the all-clear to go through with labiaplasty surgery.
- You don’t smoke. Smoking interferes with surgery and recovery. Nicotine restricts blood flow which increases the risk of complications during an operation. In the long run, smoking causes premature aging and raises your chances of developing a multitude of health problems.
- You have reasonable expectations. It’s important to understand what can be achieved by having labiaplasty. No plastic surgery procedure can repair an unhealthy relationship or fix genuine self-esteem issues. Your plastic surgeon will ask you a series of questions and discuss your expectations and goals in order to help ensure that you have a healthy mental outlook regarding plastic surgery.
Your Labiaplasty Consultation
If you’re considering labiaplasty, you’ll want to have an in-person consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss your candidacy and determine your options. At your consultation, you will have the opportunity to learn more about labiaplasty and what benefits you might expect from it given your unique anatomy and goals. Make a list of your questions and concerns to take along with you, and don’t be afraid to ask anything.
Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon
One of the main goals of your labiaplasty consultation will be to decide whether a plastic surgeon is the right one for you. It is always important to choose your plastic surgeon with great care, but this is perhaps never more true than it is when you’re considering cosmetic gynecology. Not only should you select a plastic surgeon with the skill and experience required, it’s imperative to choose someone you can form a good relationship with.
Since labiaplasty is so popular, many plastic plastic surgeons are expanding their range of services to include it. While any plastic surgeon can perform labiaplasty, you should seek out someone who specializes in vaginal surgeries. Such a delicate procedure on such an intimate area should not be left in any but the most capable hands. Here are a few things to look for when selecting your labiaplasty surgeon.
- They should be board certified. Insist on working with a board certified plastic surgeon. In order to become certified by the ASPS, a doctor must complete extensive educational requirements and submit to rigorous testing. Board certified plastic surgeons have a deeper understanding of the complexities of different parts of the human anatomy. They have a more nuanced and far-reaching knowledge of the mechanics and aesthetics of the human form.
Board certified plastic surgeons must adhere to strict standards of ethics, aesthetics and safety.
- They should have a portfolio of before and after photos. At your consultation, ask to look at photos of past labiaplasty patients so you can see a surgeon’s work. The photos should be clear and taken with good lighting. Make sure you understand exactly what was done in each particular case and whether your anatomy would allow for similar results. If a plastic surgeon has only a few labiaplasty before and after photos, they may not have enough experience to ensure your best possible results.
- They should be experienced with labiaplasty in particular. If your plastic surgeon does labiaplasty on occasion, but mostly focuses on other procedures, you should keep looking. Find a plastic surgeon who has dedicated a significant part of their practice and career to labiaplasty.
- They should operate only in accredited surgical facilities. Talk to your plastic surgeon about hospital privileges and accredited operating facilities. Only have surgery in an accredited facility. Such facilities must meticulously track and record data, reporting it back to regulatory agencies for review. They must comply with strict health and safety standards and meet stringent quality requirements.
At your consultation, you’ll also have a chance to check out the practice. Here are some things to look for:
- You should feel welcomed. Did the front desk staff greet you when you came in? Were they friendly and warm to you? Would you feel comfortable reaching out to these people with your concerns after surgery?
- The office should be clean and organized. While a clean and nicely organized office doesn’t necessarily reflect a plastic surgeon’s abilities, it says a lot about the standards they hold and their level of attention to detail.
Types of Labiaplasty
There are two common types of labiaplasty surgery. Depending on your body and your goals, one or both of these procedures could benefit you.
- Labia Majora Reduction: Labia majora, the outer lips of your vagina, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If they are large, misshapen or asymmetrical it can cause discomfort and dissatisfaction. Surgical reduction of the labia majora can create a smoother and more symmetrical appearance and can help relieve discomfort caused by their size or shape.
- Labia Minora Reduction: Labia minora are the inner lips of your vagina. Some women naturally have large or fleshy labia minora. Others experience undesirable changes in their labia minora over time as a result of childbirth, hormonal issues, weight fluctuations and even natural aging. Oversized labia minora can protrude from the labia majora, causing discomfort and pain during certain activities. For many women with enlarged labia minora, even sexual activity can be less than enjoyable due to the interference of labial folds. Trimming excessive inner labia during a labia minora reduction procedure helps create a more streamlined and proportionate look.
Why You Should Choose a Female Plastic Surgeon
Labiaplasty is a very unique branch of plastic surgery, requiring impeccable skill and considerable experience. While there are many talented plastic surgeons who are male, there are some compelling reasons to choose a female for your labiaplasty.
- Most women feel more comfortable working with another woman. You will need to discuss very intimate subjects with your plastic surgeon in order to help them decide how to best address your concerns and give you the best possible results. Talking to a male plastic surgeon about these things can be awkward or uncomfortable for some women. This is a problem because without clear and open communication, your plastic surgeon may not fully understand what you’re looking for.
- A woman knows what it’s like to have female anatomy. Only a woman can truly relate to the experience of having female genitalia. It can be easier for a woman empathize with your concerns from a cosmetic and functional standpoint. A female surgeon is better equipped to deal with concerns regarding feminine hygiene, comfort, sexual sensation and self-consciousness.
Other Cosmetic Gynecology Procedures
If your concerns go beyond your labia, there are other vaginal rejuvenation and beautification procedures available.
Many women don’t realize that there are several options designed to address specific concerns about the appearance and functionality of vaginal anatomy.
- Clitoral Hood Reduction: The clitoral hood is a fold of skin that surrounds the clitoris. Clitoral hoods come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Larger hoods may cover part or even all of the clitoris. This can interfere with personal hygiene and even diminish the ability to feel sexual pleasure. Even if a large clitoral hood does not pose any kind of functional issue, a woman may not be happy with the way it looks. Clitoral hood reduction surgery can help address issues of cleanliness and sexual sensation, and can help to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
- Mons Pubis Liposuction: The mons pubis is the mound of soft tissue situated over your pubic bone, just above your labia. A fleshier mons pubis can create a bulgy appearance and can make you feel self-conscious when wearing a bathing suit or tight clothing. During a mons pubis reduction, a plastic surgeon delicately uses liposuction to contour and refine the area.
- Viveve®: Viveve® is a non-surgical vaginal tightening treatment. Over time, and particularly after childbirth, a woman’s vagina can become more lax. This can create self-consciousness during intimate situations, as well as a loss of sensation. Viveve® stimulates the body’s natural collagen production process, and may tighten the muscles and tissues of the vagina. This can be done separately or along with labia majora reduction or labia minora reduction as a comprehensive vaginal rejuvenation.
The Trim-V Labiaplasty
Because each woman is different, each labiaplasty should be tailored to suit the individual’s unique anatomy and address her specific concerns. Trim-V labiaplasty is a type of labiaplasty pioneered by renowned specialist Dr. Jennifer Harrington. Available exclusively at her Minnesota practice, the technique was developed from a desire to refine the art and science of labiaplasty to create a more seamless and beautiful result. By combining traditional labia minora reduction with clitoral hood reduction, Dr. Harrington is able to produce a more natural-looking result. The Trim-V labiaplasty can be combined with labia majora reduction as well as with mons pubis liposuction.
Preparing for Labiaplasty
Once you decide to have labiaplasty, it’s time to start getting ready for your surgery and recovery. Careful preparation now makes for less stress later.
- Take time off work. In general, a week is more than enough. However, some women may choose to take more time off in order to more fully recuperate before returning to work. Put in for your time off early and finish up any pending projects before surgery so you can focus on recuperating.
- Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and keep up on your workouts. Get lots of good sleep and drink plenty of water.
- Get help. You’ll need some help around the house in the early stages of recovery. If you have kids, recruit your spouse, friend or family member to help out with them. Consider that you won’t be able to do any heavy lifting for a little while, especially if you have very young children.
- Create a recovery space. Since you’ll want to rest and heal for a few days, make sure you have a nice place to do it. Prepare a clean, comfortable area where you can relax and recuperate.
- Stock up on supplies. Pick up any medical supplies, sanitary items or prescriptions you’ll need. Fill your kitchen with healthy, easy to prepare snacks and meals. You may even want to prepare a few freezer meals ahead of time that can be easily reheated while you rest and recover. Make sure you have plenty of loose, comfortable clothing on hand. Don’t forget entertainment, either. Boredom can create the temptation to do more than you should in the first few days of recovery. Be ready with books, magazines or a binge-worthy TV series.
Recovering from Labiaplasty
Your labiaplasty recovery timeline and experience will depend on the procedure or procedures you have. A comfortable recovery (and beautiful results) also hinge in part on how well you follow your plastic surgeon’s post-operative instructions.
- For around 5 to 7 days after your surgery, you will experience some discomfort and swelling. You’ll also have some bleeding, which can be addressed with sanitary pads. You won’t be able to use tampons for around 10 days after labiaplasty.
- Most women can return to work 3 to 4 days after having labiaplasty. Talk to your plastic surgeon about how long you should stay home from work, since this can depend on the procedures you have done as well as the type of work you do.
- You will have to refrain from strenuous activities and heavy lifting for 6 weeks after having labiaplasty. You will also need to wait for 6 weeks to have sex after labiaplasty.
If you don’t closely follow your post-operative instructions, you could risk prolonging your recovery time and compromising your results.
- Your plastic surgeon will give you instructions to keep the area clean and hygienic without causing irritation or injury to your delicate healing tissues. You may also be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.
- The majority of your swelling should subside by around 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. However, it can take several months before you see your final results. This is simply because there may be some residual swelling during this time. Just know that, if anything, you will continue to see improvements for some time after surgery.
Your plastic surgeon should help you understand what to watch for and when to be concerned. If you have questions after your surgery, whether it’s the day after or 8 months later, never hesitate to reach out.